Wednesday, 23 February 2011
Just a quick bloggy post , I have just signed up for my first ever organised bloggy swap, how exciting and scary all at the same time :-) It is being organised by Sew Special Bears and the deadline for entering is the end of today so if you want to enter pop over to hers now.
Oohh this swap is just what I needed on a grey rainy day like today - roll on Spring !
Monday, 21 February 2011
After my last post full of sadness I thought there was no better time to blog this interview I did with the fantastic artist Julia Crossland. Her images are pure joy! So here is my interview with her, I hope you enjoy it :-)
Hello Julia, tell us a bit about yourself ...
My name is Julia Crossland, I am a 37 year old artist and illustrator and I live in a small village just north of Sheffield. My house is very old and very small and it sits by a river, I live there with my other half and our daughter. I also love to crochet when Im not painting, and baking/cooking, gardening, walking and being by the sea are other favourite pass-times of mine.
I know you create the most fantastic paintings, how and when did you start painting seriously?
Ah thank you! Well it was around 2006; I had been working as a freelance signwriter for several years and working away alot in Ireland. I felt that particular lifestyle was becoming pretty draining so we found a house to live in and I gradually began to find more local work which meant I could find little pockets of time to paint too. It all started quite gradually in the beginning and I started off with a small website which led to my first overseas commission and a few sales. I then discovered I was expecting my daughter, and after she was born the painting took a back seat again. I've started painting more again now she is a little bit older.
So, what is your favourite medium?
I am absolutely smitten with acrylic paint. I love that it drys fast and you can work in layers - you can also thin it right down with water for a lovely transparent effect, a bit like watercolour. The colours are bright and I enjoy the texture of it too, on both canvas and paper.
I really must try out acrylics! Are there any other crafts you enjoy?
I really like freestyle machine embroidery work, and of course crocheting! The sewing is something I would really like to devote more time to in the future as I miss it, working with fabric is a really tactile way of creating something which I love.
Crochet is something that relaxes me at the end of the day but I have way too many projects on the go - and didn't I just see the most divine crocheted waistcoat in a magazine this morning...Im thinking - yep, I could do one of those (along with my shawl, my two blankets, a cushion...list is endless).
Yes, as a beginner I am rather jealous of your lovely Crochet :-) When did you start selling your stuff - where do you sell?
I think it was about 2001/2 when I sold a painting at the Great Sheffield Art Show. Today I sell my work through my website: www.juliacrossland.co.uk , my Folksy Shop: http://www.folksy.com/shops/Jool and I also have work for sale at the 20-21 Visual Arts Centre in Lincolnshire, Andrea Willis Designs in Scarborough and Abercorn & Co in Yorkshire.
Do you also have a day job, or is this your main job?
My main job is being Mum to Carys, and painting is my other job.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
I am inspired hugely by the coast, by people, nature, children. Things like islands with lighthouses on them in the distance, rows of ice-cream coloured beach huts, sea birds, harbours, boats, hares, moonlit skies, flowers, sunsets - I could go on and on! I'm also inspired by other artists and crafters.
You say you are inspired by other artists, who are your favourite artists/crafters e.g are there any great folksy/etsy/artists blogs or shops you can tip us off about :-)?
I really like the work of the following people:
Kirsty Elson Designs (driftwood and textile artist), Penny Bhadresa (lino print artist), Babette Cole (illustrator), Karen Davis (illustrator), Brenda King (artist), Dear Emma (textile artist), Andrea Stokes (artist), Catherine Hyde (artist).
Oooh fantastic, I am off to check them out now :-) What is your favourite music to craft to?
It all depends what mood Im in as I have quite a diverse taste in music, but you can catch me listening to anything from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Take That, Jack Johnson, JJ Cale, The Beatles, Abba and Ben Harper to a spot of Eric Clapton, Simply Red and even classical!
You create so many gorgeous paintings, which is your favourite piece?
That's a hard question because I have a small love affair with most of my completed work!! I think right this minute, I would have to choose Harbour.
So, where do you do your crafting (specially built studio - sofa) ?
I am very much a woman with a Table for a Studio. When we are not eating at it, I transform it into organised chaos with paint tubes, palettes and other mixed media everywhere. I long for the day when I can have a special work space of my own, the luxury of closing a door on it all and not having to tidy it all away in time for tea would be just lovely!
You can find Julia's work in the links above, be warned you will want to buy some of her work, it is all so lovely :-)
I hope you are enjoying my little bloggy interviews with artists :-) If you want to be featured send me a message - go on, don't be shy :-)
Just a quick message to everyone who commented on my last blog post to say thank you so much, they were all really lovely and much appreciated. We still obviously miss our old man Skibby (he was 18 years old) and our chicken but it really did warm my heart reading all those lovely comments.
Friday, 18 February 2011
Thanks for all your lovely comments on my last blog post and well wishes for Skibby. Sadly I had to call my Dad over to put poor Skibby to sleep last night. His breathing became very laboured and he was sick and wailed a few times so was obviously really scared :-( It was a hard telephone call to make but I really couldn't see him die slowly in front of me, it just wasn't fair. Dad came over and agreed that he was leaving us but it could have taken hours if not days for him to pass away. I felt sorry for my Dad, it must be hard to have to put your childrens pets to sleep, I remember begging him to do something for our last pet Ernie when in my heart I knew it was too late - poor Dad had to tell me gently that nothing could be done. Mum was fantastic taking the children out of the way until they could come back and give Skibby another kiss goodbye. Poor Mr Sweetpea was at work so didn't get to say goodbye :-(
It is strange without him in the house, although he didn't really do much more than sit on a chair snoozing his presence is missed :-( It was also really weird not hearing him meow constantly when Mr Sweetpea got home from work today as he used to ask him for dinner as soon as he walked in from work. The dogs Charlie and Ted miss him too, they used to be great mates.
Middle Sweetpea was particularly upset and little Sweetpea wanted me to make her a magic wand so she could make him better. He is now laying next to our dog Ernie in the garden and he has a little letter with him written from middle Sweetpea so he has company.
We also lost our lovely brown chicken shown above yesterday too. That is so strange as she had a lovely day in the garden a few days back so really can't understand why she suddenly died :-(
Well I am off for a nice big glass of wine now, what a week!
Thursday, 17 February 2011
Firstly thanks for all your good wishes for Skibby. He is still with us and has had an antibiotic injection, is on antibiotic tablets and also has local antibiotics which we have to pop in his eye. He has a abscess on his eye (probably scratched it on a twig in the garden) and if it doesn't heal and goes through the eye he will have to be put to sleep as that could lead to meningitis :-( His breathing is a bit laboured today so I am hoping that won't get worse - he is too cute to leave us even if he is an old man.
Mr Sweetpea bought me some roses a couple of weeks back and now they are coming to the end of their life it reminded me that many others may have roses that may be thrown out soon. Instead of throwing them away why not recycle them? Last year we went to a wedding in June and instead of buying confetti I got some rose petals off our roses and dried them, I put them in a cute little paper bag and they worked wonderfully as confetti (if you buy that sort of confetti in shops it costs a fortune!). Not only did it look lovely but it bio-degrads after a little while so is a great eco style option.
You could also dry the petals and pop some rose oil on them for a lovely potpouri.
We have had a very rare couple of lovely sunny days here in Cambridgeshire. Oh how I love to hang my washing out on the line and potter around the garden. This week I was joined by our chickens, they absolutely love the sunshine and sit basking in it. They also had great fun having mud baths together, Mr Chicken was making sure the girls joined in :-) Ironically they do this to clean themselves and get rid of any mites that might be on them.
I flung the doors open to let the fresh air in but I did have to keep an eye out for unwanted guests arriving (although they are great company they do tend to poo on the carpet!) :-)
The two old ladies of the group weren't so interested in going out, they were enjoying some peace and quite indoors.
Even the African Greys were loving the sunshine and wolf-whistling the day away. My husband bought these when he was in his teens and thought they were a pair (both male and female of this species look nearly identical). We sent a blood sample off for DNA testing some years back now as they do a mating ritual but have never settled down together, it came back that they are both males :-) They love each other so much however that they have stayed with us as a pair.
I have managed to get a couple more sets of hairclips made recently which I really enjoyed doing. They seem to be very Spring like - Spring is in the air yey! I have popped them in my bloggy shop :-)
Middle Sweetpea has been creating with her felt and sewing kit that we bought her for Christmas, I just love the bright colours she used :-) The frog is a little pin-cushion, so sweet!
I hope you are all having a lovely week.
Tuesday, 15 February 2011
Thanks for all your great comments on my last post, I hope I will master Crochet at some point. If anyone has any good links where it has a list of both UK and American Crochet terms it would be much appreciated :-)
I have had some lovely gifts given to me recently just because someone wanted to be nice or due to a lucky giveaway win in bloggyland. Due to this I decided I wanted to re balance my karma by making some random gifts for people :-) I have done the PIF that was happening in bloggy land but wanted to do something more local too so I made some friends some yummy cookies just because they are lovely people.
If you fancy doing a similar thing or making yourself some cookies here is the recipe:
Mega Chip Cookies taken from the 1 dough, 50 Cookies book by Love Food.
8oz/225 g soft butter
5 oz/140g caster sugar
1 egg yolk (free range of course :-) beaten
2 tsp vanilla extract
8 oz/225 g plain flour
2 oz/55g cocoa powder
Milk choc or dark choc chips (or chunks as I used) - I popped a generous amount in.
White choc chips (or chunks as I used) - I popped a generous amount in.
Pinch of Salt
Preheat oven to 190deg C/375 deg F/Gas Mark 5
Put butter and sugar in bowl and mix together with wooden spoon.
Beat egg yolk and vanilla extract - stir into mixture.
(loving my new bowl that middle Sweetpea bought me. I used to have a lovely retro one handed down through the family but she accidently broke it :-( She then saw this one and bought it for me because its looks the same - how sweet)
Sift both flour, cocoa powder and salt into the bowl (it looks like a mountain!) and slowly stir into the mixture. Before completely combined add the choc chips and then mix until thoroughly combined (I found it easier doing that bit by hand).
Line two baking trays with baking paper and then roll the cookie dough into balls and pop on the tray with a good space between them. Pop in oven for 12 - 15 mins - take out and leave to cool before moving off the tray.
Then try and give some away, that is the hard bit :-) In fact the Sweetpeas couldn't understand why I was giving them all away but I did make them another batch the very next day so they didn't miss out :-)
When they were cooled I wrapped them in baking paper and then tissue paper with some string and lace to tie them up. I love the way the looked, I was inspired by the lovely wrapping that Emma Bear Forever used on the giveaway prize she sent me.
Just before giving these away I suddenly felt a bit shy about doing it and worried my mates might think I was more bonkers than they do already :-) I overcame that feeling and really enjoyed doing this, I made a point of telling the recipients that they were gifts to re-balance my karma so they don't feel they have to do anything in return. I wish you all lived closer so I could just randomly give you some cookies! If you are a 'live' friend reading this and suddenly find/get given some random cookies you know why :-)
I will definitely be doing this sort of thing again soon, not only is it nice for the person receiving them but it makes you feel great too - try it yourself and see what I mean.
Poor Skibby/Biddy (as known my the little Sweetpeas)
Our poor old cat Skibby isn't too well. His eye has suddenly really swollen up, he has had glaucoma in it for a while which can be painful but it suddenly flared up yesterday. I have called Dad (who is a vet) today and we are taking him over this afternoon. I am hoping he won't need putting down as he is 18 years old now so too old for an operation to take the eye out :-( I really don't want to make that decision and know that Dad won't even suggest it unless he feels it is in Skibby's best interest.
Thursday, 10 February 2011
Well as many of you may know I didn't have any New Years Resolutions this year, instead I decided on what I wanted to learn this year, one of them was Crochet. There are so many wonderful photos out there of peoples gorgeous Crochet creations.
So off I trotted to the local haberdashery and got my hook. I was advised there to get a large hook but this wasn't great advice, I am now finding a 4mm metal hook that a friend Kathryn gave me much better. I had this bright yellow wool left over from Middle Sweetpeas birthday party last year when we made pom pom chicks so I was ready and raring :-) My friend at work taught me to chain and then I found these great videos to master some other stitches. Kathryn who gave me the hook also gave me a great DVD which came with a magazine called 'The Art of Crochet', I have found that really useful.
So only knowing the chain and single and double crochet so far I made the two girl Sweetpeas some cuffs.
Little Sweetpea wanted a Daisy on hers, of course I made her one :-) Now middle Sweetpea wants hers updated with a Daisy.
Oh how I love toddlers cute little chubby hands :-)
I think they look rather cute on, and little Sweetpea seems very happy with hers. I have had to mend little Sweetpeas one already as these aren't quite as sturdy as the hairclips I make and she pulled it off rather than unhooking it from the button :-)
Now I have hit a little brick wall with Crochet as several things I have learnt which I thought were called one thing are called another on the DVD. I think I have come across an American tutorial (on the web) and the DVD is English. hhmm not sure what to do now. I was off work this weekend due to little Sweetpea being sick all Saturday night, I thought it was due to her really chesty cough which she still has but I think it may have been a separate bug as her best mate was sick too. I awoke with the most fantastic thumping headache so had to call in sick so my break time Crochet lessons weren't going to happen :-( This weekend I hope that my work mate can teach me more crochet, although I am not sure if I will end up more confused as she is from Estonia - not sure what stitch terms they use :-)
I am still de-cluttering the house and it seems it is effecting Mr Sweetpea. We have had this dresser holding tools in the shed since we moved here 12 years ago, we didn't want to part with it but it wasn't our style anymore. Well Mr Sweetpea suddenly decided that is must be sanded down and bought back into the house - I must say I like it a lot now it has been sanded down and it provides us with much needed storage. The only problem we have is that the tools that were in it are now all over the floor of the shed and the table that used to be in that corner (our season corner) has now got to find a new home in the house and I am really not sure where.
I have been ploughing through my old cassette tapes the last few weeks. Oohh it has been fun listening to the music on them, what flash backs they bring. We have been listening to the likes of The Cranberries, a-ha, Suede, Madness, Another Man's Poison (my hubbys mates Ska/Punk band), the Trainspotting soundtrack, Garbage just to name a few :-)
It is quite funny how the children haven't really seen tapes before so they had fun trying them out. Also the vinyls have been listened to too. I got a bit of a shock a while ago whilst listening to one of them and then hearing it scratch only to realise that Eldest Sweetpea was trying to change the track on it :-o I have now trained him up on how vinyls work :-)
By the way, does anyone else feel like they are living in the series of Outnumbered? I am sure we are all being secretly filmed for the next series lol.
Monday, 7 February 2011
I was just reading through my blog lists and was tipped off by Annie The Felt Fairy about a fantastic raffle taking part to raise money for the Alzheimer's Society. Tickets are £2 each and just take a look at some of the gorgeous prizes (I hope you don't mind me borrowing these Tinyholder). Click here to view more info.
My husbands Grandfather passed away from this horrid disease a couple of years ago, he lived with it for over 10 years :-( It was so sad seeing a man who had just retired going from a gorgeous gentle man who loved life to a man who had to be fed with puree food, my poor nan-in-law had to look after him 24 hours a day. In fact only last night I watched Wallander on BBC 1 and was blubbing away due to it portraying this disease so well - it bought back many sad memories. I was particularly taken with the fact that they showed the aggressive stage of the illness. The most gentle of people get aggressive whilst Alzheimers takes hold, they must be petrified as to what is happening to them and what they are becoming :-(
oohh better be off, I am welling up again .....
Saturday, 5 February 2011
I have a few thanks yous in this bloggy post. Firstly thanks to Ryan from Ryan's Garden blog, I was lucky enough to win a £25 voucher for Landsend and also some seeds in a recent competition he ran. Well, I had personally never heard of Landsend before that time so popped onto their website to have a nose. They have some lovely things, not all to my style but I had heard after winning that the quality of their clothes was really good.
I decided to buy the kiddies a couple of items of clothes so I rang them up and ordered a lovely cardigan for little Sweetpea and some new cords for eldest Sweetpea (these came just at the right time as his last pair had just got a hole in them from wearing them so much :-)). The lady on the phone was really lovely and helpful and she told me that as it was my first order I got free delivery - bonus! They arrived within a few days and the quality really is wonderful, just look at how happy little Sweetpea was above :-) Her cardi is a bit too big for her at the moment, it was age 3 - 4 but as little Sweetpea is a very small 3 she has room to grow into it :-).
Another thank you goes to Nellilou from My Life Diet, she recently gave me the Stylish Blogger Award. Pop over to hers for a blog filled with photography, crafts and what she has been up to.
So I think I have to write 7 things about me, hhmm I apologise now if I repeat myself , this sleep deprivation lark certainly isn't good for my memory :-)
1) I went skiing at the age of 10 and got stuck on the T-bar - I nearly went round again up-side-down :-o They had to shut to whole lift down for me to get off and I was left with a lovely bruise in a personal area :-(
2) Again at the age of 10 my Mum had my hair cut really short (and I mean VERY short). She was worried my curls were growing out and I have been fearful of hairdressers ever since. I do go now and again and feel more relaxed about it now after many years.
3) I love hanging my washing out on my line, not sure why but I just love it for some reason.
4) I am a magazine rather than a book reader (unless it is a craft or gardening book). I think I have started so many books where I have got interrupted so many times that I have got frustrated reading books.
5) I tried to dye my hair when I was at secondary school and it went horribly wrong :-) I have never dyed it or had it dyed since. Ironically it was a red colour (and I am a red head).
6) I bought my first house when I was 19, goodness that is scary, I thought I was so grown up but looking back I was only little!
7) I am a Pisces and was born in the year of the Rabbit :-)
Now to pass this on .... if you read my blog you know I love you :-) Take this award and write 7 things about you - as you probably know I am nosey too so would love to read them :-)
And last but not least on the thank you list is Bear's Footprints. Now this lady grows the most enormous parsnips, just take a look below at what she and Mr Bear's Footprint can grow! I have popped a 50p next to it for scale purposes. She gave me a bag of these and carrots which are now cut up and in my freezer for future dinners.
We recently went to our local toddler group together and sat and tried (tried being the operative word) to crochet, it was quite comical people coming up and asking what we were making - we didn't have a clue, mine was a chain and Mrs Bear Footprints was a possible flower. The lovely Kathryn (who does know how to crochet) kindly gave me a new hook and a DVD (thank you Kathryn), lets hope that helps :-) At one point a little 4 year old sat and tried to crochet using my half made chain , I think she did better than me, she seemed rather content just swiveling the hook around in the wool :-)
In fact I am really loving going to this toddler group, I never went to any with the eldest Sweetpeas as they were so close in age so didn't really need it. I get to sit and chat to a lovely group of friends who are also inspired by all things creative whilst Sweetpea just potters about playing.
hhhmm do you think you are drawn to people who love things you do - I have never seeked out artistic/creative people but all my friends seem to have that in them - strange ......
Tuesday, 1 February 2011
Hi, I hope you are all having a great week this week. Thanks for all your comments on my last blog post, if you make pretty things and want to be featured on my blog, or even do a giveaway here then feel free to message me :-)
It was rather a strange week here in the Sweetpea household as my Mum had to go and have a heart operation last Friday. hhhmm things like that do put your brain into a funny place, you think positively but then every now and again a scary thought pops up :-( The operation didn't quite go to plan as the surgeon said she has a 'unique' heart - I could have told him that before he even started! :-) I am happy to say that she is home safe and sound though, phew.
How I missed her on Friday, we always meet up Friday afternoon for a catch up and wine time :-) Luckily I had Little Lambs with Sweetpea on Friday morning and the lovely Bear's Footprints came along for the first time. It was lovely to see her and we chatted about craft stuff and the lovely Kathryn showed us a quick crochet demo at the end. Then Friday evening a friend came to pick her daughter up and drop my son off (we did a kid swap, always works really well swapping kids lol) at about 6.30pm. She stayed and chatted about thrifting & crafts and I did a quick lesson on how to use some functions on her camera, before we knew it it was past 8pm :-) Distraction technique certainly is lovely!
More distraction was needed on Saturday as we were hoping Mum would be home mid morning but she had to wait for an echo cardiogram (or however you spell it) which didn't happen until 8pm :-( . Time ticked by slowly so the girls and I made a carrot cake. So scrummy and another good distraction :-) I finally got to see Mum on Monday (as I work Sunday until late) - it was so lovely seeing her in the flesh.
Well I don't know about you but this near year has really made me want to have a clear out and tidy up of my house. Mr Sweetpea was panicking I was expecting another baby due to my nesting ways :-)
Sideboards have been tidied, cupboards and been cleared out, things have been put up in the loft and lots of bags have found their way to charity shops :-) Does the house look any less messy or cluttered - nope !
One thing I really wanted to sort out was the kiddies art stuff. We used to store it all in a cheap chest of drawers but then the drawers started to crack under the weight of it all. Well that piece of furniture got shipped off to a friend and then everything was put into bags.
It took months to get our bums into gear and get some shelves for it all. I hated having it all in bags, it was so limiting on how often we could create things as starting a project meant rummaging in bags for ages :-( I got these shelves from Argos (I did want to go to Ikea but couldn't face the trip really) and then I got some wallpaper samples (cheeky I know :-o), measured them up and popped them behind the shelves. I really love the way they have turned out:
Now all their art stuff is in one place and in full view. I must remind myself not to buy any more art stuff as the shelves are packed! I used old coffee jars, food containers and thrifted jars for storage of beads etc.
Sew Liberated's little one tidying away his playdough I just had to create something similar for little Sweetpea. I popped to homebase and found some great little wicker baskets on sale,they are perfect for storing items for activities and I have taught little Sweetpea that she can get her playdough or writing basket out and do it whenever she wants. All she then has to do is tidy it away afterwards :-) She loves them and especially loves folding up the mat after she has finished.